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For teams vying to discard the rebuild label, or for teams craving to hurdle over the seemingly impossible postseason hump, one remedy is immediately postulated.
To overcome these obstacles, a specific player, at times, must be brought in from outside the organization. These particular players, while definitely productive from their prowess on the mound or batter’s box, also bring the intangibles to the table, including that of veteran leadership and experience, postseason or otherwise.
For the Chicago Cubs, it was Jon Lester. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was Mookie Betts.
For the Toronto Blue Jays, it very well might be George Springer.
The 31-year-old outfielder definitely brings decent hardware to Toronto after his new (and franchise record) six-year, $150 million deal was officially announced by the team on Jan. 23. After all, the University of Connecticut alum is a three-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 2017 World Series champion and World Series MVP.
2017 asterisk or not, Springer brings the precise pedigree needed for a blooming team, and, more importantly, provides a necessary safeguard to a youthful offense led by the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette.
What Springer specifically brings to the Blue Jays, however, is much more than a couple potential Silver Slugger or Gold Glove Awards. No, this is a statement move, just like the Lester and Betts transactions were. How so, though?
Well, let’s look into it, shall we?
To start, Springer is a career .270/.361/.491 hitter with an on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) of .852 and park-adjusted on-base-plus-slugging (OPS+) of 131. When glancing at Springer’s 2020 season numbers, he slashed .265/.359/.540 with a .899 OPS and 140 OPS+ in 51 games played. Both his OPS and OPS+ numbers ranked first among all qualified batters on Houston’s roster. Additionally, his 14 home runs during the shortened season led the team, as did his 37 runs scored and .540 slugging percentage (SLG).
While these numbers are all fine and dandy when compared to the rest of the roster on Springer’s former team, where would they rank on his new one?
When looking at the same statistics, Springer’s OPS and OPS+ would both rank second among all qualified 2020 Blue Jays’ batters (Teoscar Hernandez ranked first in both categories with a .919 OPS and 146 OPS+). His home run totals, runs scored and SLG numbers, meanwhile, would rank second, third, and tied for second, respectively.
So, by the looks of it, Springer’s 2020 numbers (without even taking his track record into account) rank in the upper echelon on his new team. Where he did the majority of the damage from, however, helps him stand out even more, and should make Toronto fans even more excited.
Springer batted leadoff in 49 games started last season. In those 49 games, he slashed .266/.358/.543 with a .900 OPS. The entirety of Toronto’s roster, meanwhile, collectively slashed .256/.367/.445 with a .813 OPS in the leadoff spot last season. While this is definitely solid, it only gets better with Springer in the fold.
Springer’s production at the top of the lineup, however, is only emphasized more when looking at his multi-home run games at leadoff. Among all MLB players dating back to 1901, Springer’s 13 multi-home run games in the leadoff spot are tied for fourth all-time (Bobby Bonds), behind only Alfonso Soriano (19), Betts (15) and Brady Anderson (14).
On the topic of home runs, there are also Springer’s postseason home runs to account for. His 19 playoff home runs are tied for fourth all-time (Albert Pujols). Keep in mind, though, that this production is in only 292 plate appearances – Springer is the only player inside the top five to hit at least 19 home runs in less than 300 plate appearances. Scandal or not, the power has been there.
While Toronto’s lineup was already formidable to begin with, they decided to double down and not only bring in an upgrade, but an experienced one who has had a knack for hitting explosively atop the lineup.
While the jury might be out on an expensive signing of this magnitude, the results of the player speak for itself. 2017 controversy or not, there is no doubt about it.
Maybe, just maybe, those results bring such a positive impact that, similarly to the Cubs and Dodgers before, the Blue Jays take that much coveted next step toward playoff prominence once more.